By John Evanson  

BonusXP is headquartered just outside Dallas in Allen, TX, but there’s a few of us who work remotely. I work from our house in the sleepy college town of Plymouth, New Hampshire.  If “New Hampshire” sounds vaguely familiar, that’s probably because it’s an election year.  And if “Plymouth” does, you’re probably thinking of the one in Massachusetts.

Where in the world is Plymouth, NH?

Where in the world is Plymouth, NH?

Plymouth is in pretty much the geographic center of New Hampshire, at the border of the Lakes Region and the White Mountains, so there’s easy access to lots of great outdoor activities and beautiful scenery.  All around are good spots to hike, bike, ski, paddle, snowshoe, etc.

mtwash

View from the top of the (somewhat) nearby Mount Washington, highest peak in the northeast US. You can see the cairns for a hiking trail on the lower right extending to the distance. I didn’t hike up to take this picture, however. I took a van. Maybe next time!

 

Compared to Texas, we have a real four seasons, and it certainly does get cold, but as they say around here: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”  (p.s. there really is such a thing as bad weather).  I actually do like the winter, especially when it snows.  Admittedly, it might help that I don’t have to commute in it! Instead I can just sip my coffee and enjoy the view.

Out the home office window on a snowy day.

Out the home office window on a snowy day.

Making Remote Work… Work

The magic of the modern internet makes it possible for us to work more or less like we were at the office.  For source control, we use Bitbucket.  For text chat (and animated GIFs), it’s Slack.  For meetings, we use Skype.  We use various online task and bug tracking services like Trello, JIRA, and Fogbugz (varies based on phase of the project, what the publisher uses, etc.)  And we still use good, old-fashioned email for a lot of things (Google Apps for Work).  These cloud services obviously have their pros and cons, but they have made it possible for us to operate as a small studio with no IT department, while also making it easy for us to work remotely.  Even the team in Texas takes advantage of this, with most people generally working from home on Fridays.

Thanks, “Cloud”!

Thanks, “Cloud”!

So, What’s It Like?

When I tell people that I work from home, they usually react in one of two ways:

Jealousy

The jealous people are probably envisioning the lack of a frustrating commute, no longer having to endure interruptions from that annoying coworker who doesn’t get the social cues for “I have to get back to work now”, and not having to take a day off hoping the cable guy actually shows up during his eighteen hour appointment window.  And in reality, a lot of them are probably imagining something more like being curled up on the couch in their pajamas playing awesome BonusXP games all day instead of, you know… working.

Horror

The other group of people react in something more like horror.  They seem to worry they’d be too distracted by non-work things at home, experience declining personal hygiene and/or failure to ever wear pants again, or miss having social contact with coworkers during the day (even if it’s that annoying guy).  “I couldn’t do it,” they often say, “I’d go stir-crazy!”

Homer Simpson's idea of remote "work".

Homer Simpson’s idea of remote “work”.

 

Reality

The truth, of course, is somewhere in between.  For me, I love the quiet of working from home when I need to concentrate, the lack of commute, and various other conveniences.  I’m generally pretty focused and don’t have a hard time staying on task (at least on most days!)  I keep a consistent routine and always get dressed “for work” — which, admittedly, means roughly “fully clothed” in the game industry.  But it definitely can sometimes feel TOO quiet, and by the end of a work week I sometimes do feel a little stir-crazy.  Plus, communication and collaboration with the team does require a little more effort on everyone’s part.  All-in-all, I really do like working from home, but when I visit the office in Texas every couple of months, I also definitely enjoy working alongside everyone in person!